6 Exercises to Prevent Hallux Valgus (Bunions) From Getting Worse

Hallux valgus, better known as bunions, is a very common pathology of the forefoot. Once developed, hallux valgus can become very painful, both in the joint and in the muscles, and the bunion can make putting on the feet a real headache.

Read about the 5 Things You Need to Know About Hallux Valgus.

To limit its progression as much as possible, we suggest 6 exercises to do at home if you have a bunion.

What is a hallux valgus?

The hallux valgus corresponds to a bony deviation of the base of the big toe towards the outside. The end of the big toe then moves closer to the second toe, causing a deformity of the front of the foot. This bump, which takes the form of a small onion, is caused by the protuberance of the joint of the big toe.

In general, hallux valgus develops around the age of 40. Genetic factors can predispose you to developing a bunion, as can wearing high-heeled or pointed-toe shoes. People who have pronated feet – that is, whose feet tend to sag inward – are at greater risk of developing hallux valgus.

Fortunately, there are exercises that can help prevent the aggravation of hallux valgus and relieve some of the pain caused by it.

Exercise 1 | Move your toe to maintain joint mobility

Take your big toe and gently bring it up, then down. Make a dozen short round trips, from bottom to top. Repeat the exercise, but this time making slight rotations, as if you wanted to unscrew the big toe a quarter turn. Finally, gently bring it from left to right to complete the mobility exercise.

Exercise 2 | Strengthen the hallux valgus abductor muscle

Place the foot affected by the hallux valgus on the ground. Contract the muscles of the foot in order to round the arch of the foot as much as possible, without flexing your toes too much. This exercise will allow you to strengthen the abductor of the hallux valgus.

Exercise 3 | Spread your toes to strengthen the front of the foot

Always with your foot on the ground, lift and spread your toes. Then try to lower the first and fifth toes, keeping the middle ones up as much as possible. This exercise is more difficult, but it helps strengthen the forefoot and improve coordination.

Exercise 4 | Lift the first toe, then the other toes

First, lift the big toe leaving the others on the ground before lowering it. Then, do the reverse: keep the big toe on the ground and lift the others. Repeat ten times.

Exercise 5 | Raise the heel keeping the toes on the ground

In a seated position, with your foot on the floor and your toes relaxed, lift your heel, keeping the base of your toes on the floor. Repeat ten times. To increase the level of difficulty, do the exercise standing up.

Important: in the presence of hallux valgus, it happens that the mobility of the big toe is limited in extension. If you feel pain while doing this exercise, move on to the next one.

Exercise 6 | Walk a tennis ball underfoot

Place a tennis ball under your foot and walk it from forefoot to heel, then from heel to forefoot. Under the front part of the foot, you can also move the tennis ball from left to right to solicit the region affected by the hallux valgus. Practice this exercise as regularly as possible: you can even do it while you are sitting at the computer while working from home!

Hallux valgus is a pathology of the foot that can be very unpleasant. To try to limit the deviation of the big toe, wear suitable shoes to support your foot well. 

If you already suffer from a bunion, custom foot orthotics can give you more comfort and help reduce the pain. Talk to your doctor about your options for treatment.

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